Spider-Man is finally within the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Sony's latest attempt at building a universe around the character failed 3 years ago. Fans were thrilled with the news and the character's appearance in 2016's 'Captain America: Civil War' was a highlight for many. However, with this being the third different incarnation of the character in 15 years, many are still skeptical about this edition. If 'Homecoming' is anything to go by, we may be on our way to having the best representation of the web-slinger on screen.
Peter's high school experience brings us some new interesting and fun characters to the series as well. Jacob Batalon provides comic relief as Peter's best friend Ned, who is even geekier and awkward leading to some outbursts that are hilarious. Batalon is great as he himself has to deal with knowing that his best friend is a famous hero and has to try his best to not let it slip. Eugene 'Flash' Thompson returns in the form of Tony Revolori who is a much different version of the character, being much more of an arrogant, vocal bully rather than one that's athletically inclined. Revolori does well as not a completely serious bully, acting immature with silly insults and actions to make others look bad. There is plenty of comeuppance for Thompson in what is the most attention the character has ever been given in any film before. However, it is Zendaya who seems to steal the show as Michelle Jones, a tribute to MJ from previous Spider-Man comics and films. Michelle is clearly inspired by Ally Sheedy's Allison Reynolds from 'The Breakfast Club'. The character is a loner who spends most of the time by herself and doesn't really seem to fit in with others. She is clever, quick witted, weird and incredibly cool. Zendaya steals every scene that she is in, with her cleverness and humour providing many great moments. Michelle has one of the coolest personalities in film this year and will have you wanting to see more of her in the future.
'Homecoming' is still undoubtedly very much so an MCU film, with the superhero part still being the main focus. We get to skip the origin story of Spider-Man and jump straight into the character dealing with his new responsibilities. Here we get the rare chance to see superheroes handle smaller situations, as the masked man stops car thieves and helps give people directions. Due to this, he feels human and like every other person. We rarely see the superheroes doing tasks that aren't just normal helpful tasks. We do of course get the bigger scale action throughout the story as Spider-Man looks to find larger opportunities to prove himself.
An interesting aspect of the film is how Peter has to deal with this new suit that he has been given. As a young man with newly acquired powers, he is rather rash and even flashy when using them meaning he has to mature and use them responsibly. However, as he grows with the suit and realises its potential, he loses track of this and puts himself and others in further harm. There is a real character development through this as Peter realises how influential his actions really are and what can happen. The use of Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau as mentors for Peter really help this progress as well, as they stand in as sort of father figures, making restraints that Peter disobeys whilst looking out for his best interests. Downey Jr and Favreau's roles are minimal but effective nonetheless.
With these superhero movies, it always seems as if the film is about some person trying to destroy the entire world. 'Homecoming' is a lot more of a smaller story, dealing with a supervillain thief rather than someone determined on world domination. This again is a great change as it isn't the same story yet again, allowing the story to feel fresh and different from the others. This is what makes 'Homecoming' such a success, it feels fresh in a time where there are many superhero films. A difference in sub-genre, story elements, and fresh new characters really give this film life.
In saying this, though, the main faults do come from the usual problems that the MCU as a whole has. Michael Keaton gives a good performance as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture but the problem is that he is severely underdeveloped. We see how he gains this equipment but there is a severe change in his psyche that makes him more of a supervillain. This lacked much character progression and just seemed to be a rushed effort to turn Toomes from a workman to suddenly an evil villain. The score as well is not very memorable and is weak despite including the animated series theme song early on. The film's runtime comes in at 133 minutes which does feel a bit too long. A good fifteen minutes could probably be cut as there is enough in the two hours to satisfy the audience.
The screenplay credits six people and usually, when there are multiple people working together on one script, it can cause problems. With different ideas and personalities, it could even destroy a film's chances of succeeding. However, with 'Homecoming', the script is actually very solid, combining the high school life of Peter with the action-packed life of Spider-Man. The script also delivers a lot of laughs as the usual MCU humour is turned up a notch. We get to see Spider-Man in his best form due to this as he is quippy during his fight scenes. But the film as a whole is incredibly funny through its whole runtime, with side characters doing their bit equally to provide some great comedic moments. The great Stan Lee is also involved in this with his latest and one of his most funny cameos yet.
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